Rachel Willeford has ended her campaign in the race for Huntsville City Council at-large Position 1.
Willeford released a statement Thursday morning indicating her family will make an unexpected move to Georgia at the end of October to pursue a career opportunity for her husband Ty Willeford, a financial advisor for Edward Jones. Ty Willeford will be accepting a similar position with Edward Jones in LaFayette, Ga.
Willeford said over the phone Thursday that she delayed her announcement for a few weeks to allow her family to visit the Georgia office, and also notify Ty Willeford's Huntsville clients that another financial advisor would be taking his place.
“We were waiting on his clients to get a personal letter or call from him,” Rachel Willeford said. “The reason there would have been any rumors that would have gotten out at all is because I did not want to take anyone’s campaign money. As soon as I knew there might be a possibility that we would be moving, I didn’t want to do anything against my conscience or anything that would hurt the people of Huntsville.”
Willeford said the campaign had been a good experience and that she fully intended to serve the unexpired at-large position if elected.
"I enjoyed getting to meet so many wonderful people in Huntsville," she said. "I had so many well-respected citizens helping with the campaign and encouraging me."
Willeford added that she hopes more people will get involved in city government because "serving on the city council is an honorable thing to do. City government makes a difference in everyone's lives and I encourage people to consider serving on the council."
The at-large seat was vacated in June by James Fitch, who accepted a new job with the San Jacinto County Sheriff's Department.
Andy Brauninger, Willeford's opponent in the Nov. 5 election, is expected to serve the remaining year of the unexpired term. Brauninger said he first met Willeford on Sept. 14 at the Sam Houston Tea Party candidate forum, and that he was looking forward to the race.
“Any time you have to move, it’s a shock to your system when you’re established somewhere and you have to pick up and move,” Brauninger said. “So I feel for her in that sense. Certainly I wish her and her husband both well. I hope the move is financially beneficial for them, as well as socially. And I’m sure with her personality, she’ll reestablish herself pretty quick. She’s got a great personality.
“I’m in it to win and I’m ready to serve. I think with my background and my experience, I can be a real benefit to Huntsville and that’s what I want to do. I want to help Huntsville move forward.”
During her time in Huntsville, Willeford served as the board president of the Walker County Senior Center, chair of the Youth Advisory Board, member of the Beautification Board, Huntsville Junior Service League and a lifetime member of the Walker County Fair Association.
Willeford said all of her remaining campaign contributions will be donated to the Walker County Senior Center.
“We were under the impression we would be here at least until we retired,” Willeford said. “It was a big shock and for that reason we wanted to make sure we handled this withdrawal correctly. So I felt I needed to hold off until I had everything, all of the bases covered.”